Pick 6 (6/28/2015)

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Hello Friends. We’re back with our weekly feature–Pick 6. Our Pick 6 consists of 6 informative, insightful reentry & criminal justice-related news articles and commentaries that we’ve been following throughout the week. We welcome your thoughts and feedback, so don’t be shy!

1.) CELEBRATE IT: Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide (CNN)

In a landmark opinion, a divided Supreme Court on Friday ruled that same-sex couples can marry nationwide, establishing a new civil right and handing gay rights advocates a historic victory.”

***2.) HEAR IT: Accessing Education, Community Inclusion, a Challenge for Reentry Prisoners (KPFA)***

Listen to Root & Rebound‘s Staff speak on KPFA Radio about the challenges and barriers in reentry from prison and jail back to the community!

Root & Rebound’s Legal Administrative Assistant, Carmen Garcia and Founder & ED, Katherine Katcher speak to KPFA News Reporter, Saadia Malik about the experiences and needs for people in reentry and how education is one of the major keys.

We’re also excited to see long time Root & Rebound volunteer, David Basile share his thoughts and to hear more about the amazing work of the Prison University Project in bringing college level education classes to those inside San Quentin State Prison. Thank you to Saadia and KPFA for running this important story.

Please take a few minutes to listen and share the episode with your networks!

3.) REVIEW IT: Reentry: Helping Former Prisoners Return to Communities (The Anne E. Casey Foundation)

“This report offers technical assistance strategies and resources to reconnect men and women returning home from prison to their families and neighborhoods through employment, education, health and social services.  The report gives guidance on how to reduce barriers facing the formerly incarcerated, including access to housing, work, health care, counseling and job training. Policy changes that could help are highlighted. In addition, the report reviews supports available for families and children of the incarcerated to help address loss of income, emotional pain, disruptions in family life and social stigma.”

4.) READ IT: Report finds black adults in San Francisco face disparities in criminal justice system (KRON 4)

“In comparison to their white counterparts, black adults in San Francisco are much more likely to be arrested, booked into county jail and convicted, according to a racial and ethnic disparities report released Tuesday by the San Francisco Reentry Council.

The report, which looked at data from 2013, confirmed not only racial profiling on city streets but unequal treatment in the court system as well, according to San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, who co-chairs the Reentry Council.”

5.) CELEBRATE IT: The Supreme Court Keeps the Fair Housing Law Effective (New York Times)

“Housing discrimination doesn’t have to be intentional to be illegal. That is the point of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Thursday interpreting the Fair Housing Act of 1968 in accord with clear congressional intent, and preserving a well-established and critical tool in the long-running battle to ensure a more integrated society.

By a vote of 5-4, Justice Anthony Kennedy, joined by the four more liberal justices, ruled that the law allows plaintiffs to challenge government or private policies that have a discriminatory effect, without having to show evidence of intentional discrimination.

Explicit, legally sanctioned racial segregation in housing may be over, Justice Kennedy wrote, but “its vestiges remain today, intertwined with the country’s economic and social life.” From discriminatory lending practices to zoning laws that favor higher-income home buyers, persistent patterns work to hurt minorities and other vulnerable groups the law was written to protect.”

6.) READ IT: Shorter California prison officer academy to start next month (Sacramento Bee)

“California’s state prison-officer academy will shorten from 16 weeks to 12 weeks starting late next month, four years after Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration and California’s correctional officer union began talking about abbreviated cadet training.”

Pick 6 (06/21/2015)

Views from 6

Hello Friends. We’re back with our weekly feature–Pick 6. Our Pick 6 consists of 6 informative, insightful reentry & criminal justice-related news articles and commentaries that we’ve been following throughout the week. We welcome your thoughts and feedback, so don’t be shy!

1.) WATCH IT: Ban The Box (PBS)

“For many people being released from prison and jail, finding employment can be hard, even well after they have served their debt to society. As part of the PBS series “Broken Justice,” William Brangham looks at “Ban the Box,” a movement that aims to make it easier for those with a criminal background to find employment. Former inmate Daryl Atkinson and Beth Milito of the National Federation of Small Business debate the movement.

For more on the “Broken Justice” series, visit the PBS page here: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/tag/broken-justice/

***2.) HEAR IT: Preparing Formerly Incarcerated for Success (Michael Santos – Earning Freedom)***

An interview with Katherine Katcher, Founder and Executive Director of Root & Rebound

“Many people who’ve been charged with a criminal offense struggle with reentry once they return to society. I admire Katherine Katcher, a graduate from UC Berkeley Law School. After earning her law degree and becoming a lawyer, Katherine founded Root and Rebound, a non-profit organization that strives to prepare the formerly incarcerated for success.

Katherine has put together a team of other professionals. Together, the developed the Roadmap to Reentry, a comprehensive guide for those who are returning to society. She and her colleagues train facilitators how to use the 1,200+ page manual. It includes training in nine separate areas of the law. Those who use the resource effectively arm themselves to triumph over many of the challenges that complicate adjustments for the majority of 750,000+ people who return to society each year from America’s jails and prisons.

Katherine spoke with the Earning Freedom audience today, telling us about her inspiring work and the challenges Root and Rebound faces. Next month I’ll travel to Oakland to contribute as a speaker for the group’s annual fund raising event. I’m hopeful that Root and Rebound succeeds in generating the resources it needs to combat the consequences that follow our nation’s commitment to mass incarceration.”

3.) READ IT: Why Carlos Montero Has Been in Rikers for Seven Years Without Trial (The Marshall Project)

“The story of Carlos Montero, who so far has spent 2,431 days in jail without a trial (much less a conviction) immediately raises a series of obvious questions about due process andspeedy trial rights under the Constitution. But Montero is one of hundreds of current jail inmates who are incarcerated indefinitely, despite the fact that no judge or jury ever has convicted them. At Rikers, approximately 400 inmates have been waiting for at least two years for their cases to get to trial.

4.) DISCUSS IT: Church Massacre Suspect Held as Charleston Grieves (New York Times)

Read more here: https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/06/19/what-to-read-the-charleston-massacre?utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=sprout&utm_source=facebook

5.) READ IT: Man Arrested as Teen Has Waited 7 Years in Rikers for Trial (NY Post)

“A Manhattan man has spent nearly all of the past seven years locked up on Rikers Island awaiting trial — a dubious record for pretrial incarceration that is not likely to end anytime soon, experts told The Post.

Carlos Montero, now 24, was with two pals when one fatally stabbed a man and the other slashed another during a robbery in Washington Heights on Oct. 23, 2008, authorities have charged.

Montero, who has spent six years and eight months in Rikers, attempted to get his case tried separately — while one of his alleged cohorts fights the DNA evidence — but the judge balked, and his lawyer won’t even seek bail for him now because he says it’s a lost cause.”

*** 6.) WATCH IT: ROOT & REBOUND IS HOSTING A SCREENING OF “LIFE AFTER LIFE on JUNE 25TH “***

As adolescents trapped in a world of drugs, violence, and daily trauma, Noel, Harrison and Chris quickly lost their way. Before they could become adults, they were locked up in prison – given sentences that could leave them in their cells for the rest of their lives. Years later, they were given another chance: parole. Tamara Perkins’ “Life After Life”, follows their stories upon their release – each very different, each with unexpected, often heartbreaking turns and detours. Understated and surprising, “Life After Life” reveals what their paths to a new life – often measure in small awkward steps – can teach us about the prison system, American life, and our own values.

Filmmaker Tamara Perkins and some of the men featured in the film will be present to speak at the June 25th screening at Root & Rebound’s downtown Oakland office (1730 Franklin Street, Suite 300, Oakland, CA 94612) from 6pm.

Watch the trailer here: www.lifeafterlifemovie.com and visit the event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1464179133875251/

Pick 6 (06/12/2015)

Views from 6Hello Friends. We’re back with our weekly feature–Pick 6. Our Pick 6 consists of 6 informative, insightful reentry & criminal justice-related news articles, commentaries, and media clips that we’ve been following throughout the week. We welcome your thoughts and feedback, so don’t be shy!

1.) HEAR IT: New Yorker reporter’s account of her interviews with Kalief Browder (NPR)

Jennifer Gonnerman, a reporter for the New Yorker, spoke to NPR’s Robert Siegel about Kalief Browder’s death. Browder, a 22-year-old man who spent three years incarcerated at Rikers Island without a trial or conviction, took his life on Saturday.

Gonnerman read a quote from Browder, who explained his emotions following his release by saying, “I’m mentally scarred right now. That’s how I feel. There are certain things that changed about me and they might not go back.”

For Gonnerman’s original New Yorker article, see: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/10/06/before-the-law

For Gonnerman’s second New Yorker article following Browder’s suicide, see: http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/kalief-browder-1993-2015

2.) SEE IT: S.F. sheriff sets lowest age in California for kids to visit loved ones in jail (SF Gate)

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Sheriff signs into action policy that would lower the age limit and allow 16-year-olds to make solo visits with loved ones in San Francisco county jail.

“Mirkarimi said he decided on the policy change after consulting advocacy organizations for incarcerated parents and their children, as well as seeing the results of a systemwide survey of inmates that found that at any given time, there are more than 1,000 children in San Francisco with a parent in county jail.”

3.) WATCH IT: Hundreds Rally at the State House for Criminal Justice Reform (22 News WWLP)

Hundreds of people showed up at the Massachusetts State House in Boston in support of repealing mandatory minimum sentencing for drug convictions.

“Mandatory minimums have not lessened the use of drugs, the distribution on drugs. In fact, it’s no less distributed now than when the war on drugs started.” -Ben Swan (D-Springfield)

4.) READ IT: Who Gets to Go to the Pool? (New York Times)

“Water has long been a site of racial anxiety. Integrating city pools has led to riots, such as in 1931, when young black men in Pittsburgh were held underwater, dragged out and beaten by white swimmers while police officers watched. Segregated beaches were an early battleground for integration in Mississippi. When more than 100 black people held a wade-in in 1960, a white mob attacked them with pool sticks, lead pipes and chains.”

5.) DEBATE IT: Stalled DNA collection bill is revived in Legislature (LA Times)
“The measure, by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), would allow for DNA collection of people charged with a serious felony. It’s meant to be a back-up for the state’s current DNA collection law, which was struck down by a state appellate court last year. The law, which was approved by voters as Proposition 69 in 2004, remains in place pending a ruling from the California Supreme Court.”

“If you get arrested and you’re involved in [homicides or sex crimes], there’s a certain right [to privacy] that you lose.” -Assemblyman Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove

“[You’ve] started down a road where you’ve erased any balance between the legitimate needs of law enforcement and individual rights.” -Jeremy Gruber, President of the Council for Responsible Genetics

See also: An analysis of recent court rulings on Criminal DNA Collection at http://gizmodo.com/the-future-of-criminal-dna-collection-in-2015-1677703405

6.) CELEBRATE IT: Long Beach man overcomes criminal past to earn degree, help others (Press-Telegram)

Rodney Coulter, a Long Beach man who was kicked out of two high schools and spent time in prison for drug charges, earned his associate’s degree in Human Services from the Long Beach City College on Wednesday. Coulter uses his lived experiences to teach others what he’s learned.

“Coulter has spoken to more than 5,000 people, and in the last year has delivered presentations more than 40 times, bringing an anti-gang and anti-crime message, and teaching people what to do if stopped by a police officer (obey, be calm, follow instructions, he says). …In prison, he reflected on his legacy — the kind of man he would be remembered as by his two daughters, his three grandchildren and a great-grandchild. And he made a promise to his father, that he would one day get his son back.”

Report of the week: Advancing a Federal Fair Chance Hiring Agenda (NELP)

In the spirit of NELP’s #BanTheBox action on June 10th, this week’s report is from NELP’s campaign to eliminate employment discrimination against formerly incarcerated people. This report focuses on the ways that local and state reforms are paving the way for presidential action on this topic.

Quote of the week: Carmen Perez (MSNBC)

“Rikers wasn’t a place for Kalief [Browder]. It’s not a place for the 10,000 teenagers currently residing in adult facilities across America.” -Carmen Perez, Executive Director of the Gathering for Justice

#BanTheBox: Take Action for Federal Fair-Chance Hiring!

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Join the National Employment Law Project (NELP) and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights today for a National Day of Action calling on President Obama to give people with records a fair chance to work at federal agencies and contractors.

Here’s how to help:

  • Sign this letter to President Obama urging his administration to ‘Ban the Box’ on federal job applications and to adopt other fair chance hiring reforms for all job seekers, including those with records!
  • Send a tweet to President Obama (@POTUS)
    • It’s time for the U.S. to adopt a federal #FairChance hiring policy! Tell @POTUS to #BantheBox pic.twitter.com/73sQk8oixo
    • @POTUS can help open up employment opportunities for qualified job-seekers with records #BanTheBox #FairChance pic.twitter.com/73sQk8oixo
    • #FairChance reforms restore hope & opportunity to qualified job-seekers with an arrest or conviction record. @POTUS, it’s time to #BanTheBox

Nationwide, over 100 cities and counties have adopted what is widely known as “ban the box” so that employers consider a job candidate’s qualifications first, without the stigma of a conviction record. These initiatives provide applicants a fair chance by removing the conviction history question on the job application and delaying the background check inquiry until later in the hiring.

17 states and over 100 cities and counties have taken steps to remove barriers to employment for qualified workers with records. Six states, the District of Columbia, and eleven cities and counties extend their fair chance hiring policies to local private employers. It’s time for President Obama to take executive action on federal fair chance hiring.

Here’s the bottom line: Fair chance hiring policies should extend to federal contractors and agents. Formerly incarcerated people deserve equitable opportunities to success.


“Ban the box” initiatives help individuals, families, and local communities by reducing the stigma attached to having a criminal record. These policies are based on fairness, inclusion, and community improvement. Citizens going through the reentry process face myriad barriers to their access to housing, social services, education, and employment. Fair chance hiring policies help alleviate boundaries to formerly incarcerated people’s success.

Stable and secure employment is critical if we hope to give meaningful second chances to people coming home from prison and jail. Formerly incarcerated people should not be denied the ability to succeed. The federal government has the opportunity to send a message that people in the reentry process are valuable—and valued—members of society.

Pick 6 (06/07/2015)

Views from 6

Hello Friends. We’re back with our weekly feature–Pick 6. Our Pick 6 consists of 6 informative, insightful reentry & criminal justice-related news articles and commentaries that we’ve been following throughout the week. We welcome your thoughts and feedback, so don’t be shy!

1.) Mississippi Cuts Work Program for Prisoners (New York Times)

“In a budget-cutting move, the Mississippi Department of Corrections announced on April 30 that it would shut down a program that paid counties to take in state inmates who worked free for local governments in return for shortened sentences. The change, scheduled to begin Aug. 1, is expected to affect more than 600 inmates. Other states that have reduced similar programs include North Carolina, Michigan and Florida.”

2.) Black Americans killed by police twice as likely to be unarmed as white people (Guardian)

“Black Americans are more than twice as likely to be unarmed when killed during encounters with police as white people, according to a Guardian investigation which found 102 of 464 people killed so far this year in incidents with law enforcement officers were not carrying weapons.”

ALSO SEE: The Counted (The Guardian’s Database of people killed by police in the U.S.)

3.) My greatest burden is also my greatest asset – Christopher Poulos (Maine Law)

“My greatest burden is also my greatest asset. It is one thing to read a book about what it means to be in prison, be homeless, or put a needle in your arm, it is another thing entirely to have actually experienced and survived those challenges,” Poulos said. “I see myself as an asset to people in the criminal justice system, to Maine Law, and to the legal profession not in spite of my past, but because of it.”

4.) Studies Confirm the Dehumanization of Black Children and the ‘Preschool-to-Prison Pipeline’ (Common Dreams)

“Although African-Americans constitute only 13 percent of all Americans, nearly half of all prison inmates in the U.S. are black. This startling statistic has led the United Nations Human Rights Committee to publicly criticize the U.S. for its treatment of African-Americans. A number of recent studies and reports paint a damning picture of how American society dehumanizes blacks starting from early childhood.”

5.) City Will Not Renew Corizon Contracts for Rikers Health Care: Sources (DNA Info)

Corizon, the Tennessee-based company, will not have its contracts renewed, sources say. The company, which has run health care in the city’s jails since 2001, has been blamed for the preventable deaths of at least a dozen inmates and had its care called “incompetent” multiple times by the state.”

ALSO SEE: Dominik Taylor’s article about Corizon on R&R’s blog here.

6.) A growing experience (Washington Post)

“It’s planting season behind bars, where officials from San Quentin in California to Rikers Island in New York have turned dusty patches into powerful metaphors for rebirth. The idea: transform society’s worst by teaching them how things bloom — heads of cabbage, flowers, inmates themselves.”

Audio of the week) In Norway, A Prison Built on Second Chances (APR)